mandag den 30. november 2009

Eurocities Annual General Meeting

Stockholm Nov 25-28

The Eurocities organization that covers a number of the largest and most advanced cities in Europe, last week had their annual general meeting in Stockholm during the Swedish EU Presidency.

The main theme of this year's annual conference was of course focused on the upcoming COP 15 meeting in Copenhagen and the working theme name was 'Urban Challenges – Sustainable Solutions'. (The entire conference is available on line using this link - – you have to sign in first, but then you are in there, really a nice solution)

The mayor of Stockhom, Steen Nordin (M) welcomed the participants and explained that a large part of the program was dedicated to a number of green projects that participated to Stockholm's nomination as the Green Capital of Europe. Eurocities president, Jozias van Aartsen from Hague likewise expressed the hope that the conference could be a clear sign to the World that as the majority of the global population is now living in cities, the cities themselves are not longer 'just' the problem, but very much important players to solve the global challenges and the global warming in particular, but also the key areas where Eurocities has been active and where 3 awards were due under the headings of 'Innovation',' Participation' and ' Cooperation'.

One of the most interesting and engaging experts on international Health, professor Hans Rosling from Karolinska, then presented a breathtaking tour-de-force of numbers to describe how the World has changed and how all our prejudices dividing the World in 'They' and 'We' were no longer valid.

Look at this shortened version of his speech:

Under the headline: 'Sustainable Solutions for Business, Science, People and Culture' the conference split up in 9 groups and went on bus tours to study practical experiences and cooperations between Stockholm city and private and public organizations.

For my part I joined the tour to 'World Leading ICT cluster' at Kista, which in fact I have followed from its' early beginning with Ericsson and IBM as the first partners. Now more than 30.000 jobs have been created in more than 200 ICT companies in Kista. Really impressive and a positive experience and clear signs that the crisis is almost over in Sweden.

The other tours were labeledFuture Suburbia' – renewing Järva, a suburb from the 60's built to meet housing shortage and now in need for renovation - 'Teleco

m for green Cities' – a Visit to Ericsson Headquarter also describing the Intelligent Transportation System in Stockholm, where IBM performed the coordinating role – the 'Intelligent Electricity Project' – smart grids, smart electric cars - 'Creative cluster'- sustainable design in an industrial regenerated area - Mobility flows' – showing how the public bus system was converted to Biogas, also descr

ibing the Intelligent Traffic system - 'The Hammarby Model' – Integrated management of Waste, Water and Energy to 'Heating the city' – showing how 80% of the heating comes from

renewable sources and finally 'Low carbon Urban Transport'.

It was a tremendous well organized 2.5 hours extension for everybody and it was really impressive!

The plenum meeting was then led by mr. Ballasteros from the EU commission on the topic of 'the Covenant of the Mayors':

The evening program called for a galla dinner at Stadshuset, in the Blue Hall, where the famous Nobel Price ceremonies take place. The evening called for a reward to the cities that had earlier been presented as nominees for the categories Innovation, Participation and Cooperation.

Winner for the innovation group was the city of Malaga, that had developed an interactive map in 3D to optimize localization of solar energy batteries. Birmingham won the category 'participation' with an interesting project on building an 'eco-village', and finally city of Dortmund won the prize for Cooperation by an impressive, yet low budget project on ' Consultation Circle for Energy Effectiveness and Climate Protection'

Friday morning program was dedicated to 'the Stockholm Appeal':

The mayors of the largest cities in Europe and the United States have co-authored a mutual appeal, "The Stockholm Appeal on Climate Change". The appeal manifests the signatories’ desire for the COP15 meeting in Copenhagen to result in an international climate change agreement.

The US chairman for the US Mayors Goncress, Mrs. Elisabeth Krautz already the day before stressed the dedication from the US cities to back the Stockholm initiative.

The Stockholm Appeal was signed earlier this year by U.S. Conference of Mayors President Seattle (WA) Mayor Greg Nickels, U.S. Conference of Mayors CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran, Stockholm Mayor Steennnn Nordin, and Mayor of The Hague EUROCITIES President Jozias von Aartsen.

The Appeal was presented to the representatives of the Swedish Presidency of the European Union, as well as the Obama Administration by Mayor Kautz and Mayor Nordin. From this ceremony we have the following citation from the Canadian mayor:

"U.S. mayors proudly stand with our European counterparts in asking international recognition of the role of local leaders in climate protection. At the forefront of creative strategies, U.S. mayors have forced our national government to act to combat climate change. To date, over 1,000 mayors have signed the USCM climate protection agreement pledging to meet or beat Kyoto goals. Mayoral leadership is a major impetus in climate protection," said Mayor Nickels.

The Swedish Deputy Prime Minister, Maud Olofsson and the US Chargé D'Affair in Stockholm, Robert Silverman, underlined the strong intention behind the Stockholm Appeal, and Robert Silvermann declared that his president and the congress this time would do it's utmost to reach a politically binding treaty in Copenhagen on climate warming.

And finally, before the forum reports, Senator John Kerry appeared on video conference to persuade the European audience about the good will of the Congress in Washington, where he was at least partly successful. We are all now very much focused on what will happen in Copenhagen but take it as a good sign that President Obama has declared that he will participate.

Stockholm's Mayor Steen Nordin will hand over the Stockholm Appeal to the UN Conference COP15 in December in Copenhagen.

For the full Wording of the Stockholm Appeal, see this link: